Reviewed by: Lori Souder
|Featuring:||Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Charlie Cox, Lena Olin, Oliver Platt|
|Distributor:||Buena Vista Pictures|
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
How can I tell if I’m getting addicted to pornography or sex? Answer
Is there a way to overcome excessive lust for sex? Answer
One of the taglines that has been used to advertise this movie goes as follows: “A partially true story about lies told, virtue lost and love found.” I would suggest, rather, that this movie could be viewed as a debauched fairy tale at best, and at worst, a propaganda film glamorizing the pleasures of endless fornication and adultery. Any truth in the movie is minimal.
The film opens with a mother leaving her son because she is running away with a man that she wants to have a sexual relationship with. Raising her son is not a priority. The boy is devastated. The goodbye is quick and without ceremony. It is understood that the mother is hot blooded and is ruled by her lusts. Immediately, the child is then shown to us as the adult that we know is Casanova, as played by Heath Ledger. Casanova has once again gotten himself in trouble and his advocates in high places conspire to allow him to slip away and continue his sex-addicted lifestyle. This theme comes up over and over again in the movie. Casanova has many friends or shall we say enablers who romanticize his “life’s work.”
The plot is one of mistaken and stolen identities, a woman who dresses up like a man, a cross gender nom de plume, and marriages of conveniences. It is all just crazy madcap “good fun” until someone gets hurt, and no one ever does in this film. No one is ever shown to suffer for any length of time for anything that Casanova does or causes, no matter how terrible, illegal, immoral, or self-centered his choices are.
Casanova, who can reportedly have any woman that he wants, finds that there could possibly be one lady who could resist him, and it whets his appetite. Though flagrant lying, misleading innocents, cheating people, and breaking promises that he has make, he sidles up to her, closer and closer, like a snake in the garden of Eden.
The setting is Venice and the actual city is used in the filming. It is very sumptuous in an aged old world way, and that adds a unique feeling to the story. The soundtrack is classical and lush with instruments and compositions that sound appropriate to the time period. The cinematography is beautiful as you would expect from the director of “Chocolat.”
This movie is a sweet iced bon-bon hiding a dangerous and deceptive message inside. The movie wants us to believe that Casanova was a great lover of women, a romantic, a philosopher, an all around sweet guy who is just bringing a lot of joy to everyone around him-especially bored women. The actual historical reality could not be more different: Casanova was a destroyer of women.
Women at the time had very few choices, although in Venice, where the movie is set, they were more fortunate as many of them had some education that was given at home. However, without a marriage or wealth, women had no chance to choose or improve their lives or the lives of their children. When Casanova breezed in for the night, the woman could contact one or more of his numerous venereal diseases, and pass it on to their husband and any children that they bore from that time on. And if there was any trust inside her marriage, it would be destroyed, perhaps leading to estrangement or separation. There could have been domestic violence incited against the woman. If the woman was engaged or betrothed, she might have lost her chance with her fiancé and any others who had high moral standards. If a child resulted from the tryst with Casanova, it might be illegitimate if the woman was unmarried. If conceived within a legal wedlock, it might be rejected by one or both of the spouses, or at the very least, feel somehow different from the other family members and alienated in some way.
Casanova, in truth, was a thief of virtue, fidelity, health, and security. He was a bringer of misery and disease and unhappiness to all he encountered. But as the movie states at one point, it is all worth it as one night with him is a fair exchange for an eternity of damnation!!
Despite the constant immoral sexual behavior discussed and portrayed in the movie, there is never a whisper of a mention of any of the various venereal diseases which Casanova suffered from and passed on in real life. Nor is there any mention of children fathered by Casanova, any hurt and angry husbands and boyfriends, or any loss of trust and intimacy in marriage or broken engagements caused by infidelity of the woman.
In fact, marriage in the movie is not considered anything but a financial contract. No one in the movie disapproves of Casanova’s behavior except for the “uncool” people. That would be the Catholic church represented by the one-dimensional Inquisitor Bishop Pucci played by Jeremy Irons. Everyone in the movie, and especially anyone that knows Casanova personally, tries to help him, protect him, and save him whenever justice deems him punishable.
In real life, Casanova was much more frequently leaving town and moving on due to the many outraged husbands that he cuckolded or the infuriated guardians of his conquests rather than being hotly pursued by the Inquisition. This movie seeks to make a hero out of Casanova, although in life he was always being chased out of town in disgrace for his many illegal and immoral acts. On the official Web site for the movie, it is stated that…
“He is best remembered as a World Class Lover, but that does not mean our amorous friend does not have scruples. Casanova was opposed to the idea of orgies, which were all the rage at the time.”
It is quite amazing what Hollywood considers “scruples” these days! And having many, many one night stands is somehow morally superior to having many partners at once? It seems merely a matter of timing to me. Sin is sin.
The acting overall was very good, but I thought that Health Ledger was a lackluster Casanova and did not have the charisma that it takes to charm countless women on a daily basis. I thought that Paprizzio (played by Oliver Platt) was a much more interesting and charismatic character. I also thought the character development was very good on almost all of the parts except for the one-sided Casanova and the “cardboard cut-out of a bad guy,” Pucci the Bishop. I especially admired the costumes and intricate wigs used in the production. The end of the movie was an interesting twist, but truly a silly fantasy.
I have given the rating of extremely morally offensive to this movie not because of the profanity or the nudity, or the violence, but because it iron-fistedly pushes the theme that “it’s all good” when people choose sexual pleasure over everything else in their lives. It is the current theme of the media you see and hear everywhere. This film also reiterates the stupid and preposterous myth that you can have as many sexual encounters as you wish without any consequences, and when you find the “right” person, true love makes that relationship perfect, effortless, and being faithful is then ridiculously easy.
There are those who would defend this movie saying that with the subject matter it could have had much more nudity, sexually explicit scenes, and have been much more objectionable overall but chose not to be that type of movie. However, this movie is actually far more dangerous and insidious that one that is obviously crude and lascivious. It takes a very harmful message and wraps it in beautiful fluff and makes it palatable to almost everyone except the “uncool” people. Soon, with only a few scenes shortened or cut, and a little of the language changed, it will be playing on a television station near you so your young children can see it. It will be considered a new classic. The rating of R is warranted, and is due, I believe, exclusively to the subject matter which will not change no matter how it is cut and dubbed for TV. Just thought you should be warned.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.